« Post Kirtsaeng, Withdrawal of Attorneys' Fees | Main | Summary of Today's Meeting of the Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission »

The Language of Disability: Top 10 Dos and Don'ts

By Kristine A. Sova
www.sovalaw.com

On Thursday, September 22, 2016, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop led by Christine Bruno, Disability Advocate, and David Harrell, Disability and Program Associate, from Inclusion in the Arts. A portion of the workshop focused on the language of disability -- particularly dos and don'ts -- and is a useful tool for workplace inclusion and diversity initiatives as well as equal employment opportunity (EEO) compliance. Employers, lawyers, and HR professionals: Please consider using these examples in your next workplace training.

DON'T USE wheelchair-bound/confined to. DO USE wheelchair user/ uses a wheelchair.

DON'T USE suffers from/afflicted with/crippled by/victim of. These terms make assumptions about how the disabled person feels about his/her disability. Use "has" and the name of condition (e.g., has cerebral palsy, has paraplegia, etc.).

DON'T USE the disabled/the blind/the deaf. Always use as an adjective rather than a noun - disabled person, blind filmmaker, deaf man or woman.

DON'T USE retarded (e.g., mentally retarded)/retard. USE intellectual disability; cognitive disability; developmental disability (when using these terms, however, it is important to understand the distinction among them).

DON'T USE handicapped (handicap). In general: If you're not writing about sports, don't use it! Use disability, disabled person, person with a disability. Similarly, DON'T USE handicapped parking, restroom, etc. USE accessible parking, restroom, etc.

DON'T USE midget/dwarf. DO USE little person. (Dwarf is acceptable only if the person actually has dwarfism.) Keep in mind: Anyone with dwarfism is a little person, but every little person is not a dwarf.

DON'T USE deaf-mute/deaf and dumb/hearing-impaired. DO USE deaf or hard of hearing.

DON'T USE physically challenged/differently abled. Avoid outdated or saccharine terms and euphemisms. Use disabled as an adjective (e.g., disabled sportscaster) or person-first language (e.g., person with a disability).

DON'T USE overcoming/inspiring/brave/courageous. Avoid patronizing and condescending descriptives - describe the person's accomplishments without value judgment or interpretation.

DON'T USE special/special needs. Do not use when referring to disabled people.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 28, 2016 1:05 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Post Kirtsaeng, Withdrawal of Attorneys' Fees.

The next post in this blog is Summary of Today's Meeting of the Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission .

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.